Just because parsnips are related to carrots doesn’t mean they can go in the kids’ lunches or on a crudité platter. It’s only after they have been thoroughly cooked that the parsnip’s true character comes to the fore. Winter is their peak time. Parsnips have a very long growing season (3-4 months) and will really only develop their sweet, rich, nutty flavour after a frost or a long period in cold storage. Look for smooth unblemished skin and choose medium sized parsnips. If too big, you run the risk of hard woody cores with spongy outer flesh and if too small, you won’t be left with much after peeling.
The inimitable Jane Grigson advises not peeling them at all, but unless you are lucky enough to find dry, pristine parsnips not already packaged in plastic, the terrible habit many supermarkets have of spraying everything indiscriminately makes peeling necessary. I have long made a lovely pureed soup with carrots, parsnips and white wine, but I’ve recently switched the carrots out for sautéed pears and the result is lovely. If you’re concerned about the alcohol (almost all of it cooks off), don’t use it at all and increase the stock to suit.
I have long made a lovely pureed soup with carrots, parsnips and white wine, but I've recently switched the carrots out for sauteed pears and the result is lovely. You can use a bit more of the same wine you baked the pears in, or just use the white wine you're drinking. If you're concerned about the alcohol (almost all of it is cooked off)), don't use it at all and increase the stock to suit.
Prep Time 20 minutesminutes
Cook Time 30 minutesminutes
Author Ellen Kelly
4-5medium sized parsnips
3-4peeled and cored pears
Sprig of chervilgarnish
Peel, trim and coarsely chop parsnips.
Saute the parsnips in butter with shallots and salt for about 10 minutes.
Roughly chop pears and continue to cook over medium heat, adding a bit more butter, a generous squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of ground coriander.
Add this mixture to chicken stock and white wine.
Bring it up to a boil, then reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cook until parsnips are soft.
Remove from the heat and puree with a hand-held blender, being careful of the hot liquid. (A regular blender can be used, of course, but puree in batches.)
Check for seasoning, especially salt, and add in heavy cream.
Continue on low heat for another 10 minutes.
Swirl a bit of crème fraiche on the top of the ladled soup and garnish with a sprig of chervil to serve.